Monday, February 26, 2007

Warriors lose to Cowboys in trial match

Well unfortunately a purportedly full strength Warriors side managed to lose to a Cowboys trial side 32-14. Lance Hohaiha apparently had a strong game as did new fullback Wade McKinnon.

Another trial this weekend vs the Dogs out at Albany - looks like Mason will make an appearance - Sonny Bill may also be a chance to play. Utai is likely to be out with an ankle injury.

Only three weeks till the 2007 season kicks off vs the Eels at Mt Smart.
I had been wondering what was the injury status of Wairangi Koopu - as he has been one of the most consistent performers for the Warriors over the Watson era - anyway I would not expect him back anytime soon as his shoulder specialist is saying it may be as long as another two months before his injured nerve in his shoulder is sufficiently healed for him to take NRL contact.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Zealand trip

Well I am writing this post from my family abode in Auckland. Must say NZ has put on a fine show so far on our visit with sunny warm weather. Managed to make it to the far north for a couple of days at the beach location pictured on the right which will remain unamed and was fantastic. The recent performances by the Black Caps have also been out of this world!

Anyway quite a bit has been happening on the Warriors front and as I sit here sipping a Lion Red listening to the cicadas I feel that I am in ideal position to recap. In the first trial match the Warriors beat the Lions 64-4 - can't take too much from this result seeing as the Lions are basically a Warriors feeder/reserve/development team that have been included this year in the New South Wales Premier League and will play their home games as curtain-raisers to the Warriors - however a good result none the less.

The tallk of the media seems to be the amazing depth in the halves that Cleary now enjoys with the arrival at the Warriors of former rookie of the year contender Michael Witt on a one year contract. This guy could be a real diamond in the rough and another great buy by Cleary - if nothing else for his goal kicking.

I picked up a copy of Rugby League Week down at Lynnmall yesterday and it includes an article pointing out that in addition to the incumbent starting halves combination of Rovelli and Ropati, Cleary can now choose from Witt, Fien, and Hohaia with Gatis as a final option. This is awesome depth and Ropati will have to perform very well in the trials to keep his position with Witt a real threat to start at no. 6. Having guys like Fien and Hohaia (3 tries v Lions) in reserve is a great comfort as these guys are quality and an injury of some shape or form in the halves is inevitable.

However before I get too warm and fuzzy about RLW I do note they are picking the Warriors to come 12th in the NRL this year ahead of only the Panthers, Tigers, Roosters and Raiders. Sydney Morning Herald is picking Warriors to come 10th. If either of these picks were the case I think it would be a tremendous dissppointment considering that the boys managed 10th last year in spite of the four point deduction. I think we can seriously expect improvement on last season and that would mean the lower ranks of the top eight at a minimum.

Warriors are travelling to Queensland for a trial against the Cowboys this Saturday night with Cleary set to start a near full strength side including captain Steve Price and vice-captain Ruben Wiki plus ex-Parramatta fullback Wade McKinnon, winger Manu Vatuvei, centre Simon Mannering, standoff Jerome Ropati, hooker Nathan Fien and back rower Micheal Luck. And just to make my day - Sione has been named in the Cowboys side to face the Warriors in their trial this Saturday. Awesome.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Warriors consider Price contract extension

Would you beleive it some actual substantive Warriors news today. Apparently the Warriors are doing some forward planning and reviewing all their contracts and salary cap position for the 2008 season now. In particular Steve Price is looking to extend his contract - due to expire at the end of this season - for one additional year. This would mean he and Wiki both come off contract at the end of 2008 and theoretically both retire at that point in time opening up a vast salary cap opportunity in 2009 and also positional space in the forwards for new boys Russell Packer and Sam Rapira.

Sounds ok in principle provided the Warriors are disciplined enough about this opportunity to avoid over-paying for Price who is well worth a good salary but is approaching the end of his career. The Warriors may be full of enthusiasm about the season ahead (and so am I) but to my mind they need to be patient to see how Price's body holds up this season before investing a significant proportion of their 2008 cap on him. The response to this argument would be that they have watched him train all pre-season so have a good idea of how he is doing physically.

Overall I think this is a response to the salary cap breach points deduction debacle and the loss of Webb - the Warriors dare I say it may actually be planning their salary cap management a couple of seasons at a time. This has got to be good for the future of the team.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In Training

Well the off-season continues to drag endlessly.
I will be paying a visit to all the NZ based subscribers of this blog in one weeks time and I am really looking forward to it.

Not much news to report on the Warriors front other than the fact that their training visit to Waiheke Island was a success but that the Fullers ferry system is so inadequate that as many as 120 people had to spend the night on the wharf after being stranded when the last ferry left without them. Awesome anticipation and planning all round! In a shock act of foresight Fullers are now scheduling extra ferries for busy Waiheke weekends.
Community carnival and a few trial matches are coming up (including vs Bulldogs at Albany on the 3rd March) and I have added some more images to the blog - only about 5 weeks to go till kickoff v the Eels on 17 March. Cue the Final Countdown!